Florida Democratic Challenger Apologizes for 'Insensitive' Anti-LGBTQ Social Media Posts

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday August 4, 2020

Albert Chester
Albert Chester  (Source:albertchester.com)

Pharmacist and political neophyte Albert Chester has issued apologies in the wake of old social media posts in which he decried marriage equality, dismissing the struggle for same-sex families to achieve full legal equality as being a "proud stand for unnatural lusts and desires."

The Jacksonville pharmacist is looking to unseat incumbent, Al Lawson, a Democrat who represents Florida's 5th District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Chester says at his campaign site that he decided to go into politics and run for office after he "opened New Town Pharmacy and got an inside look at how the billion-dollar healthcare industry was set up to generate profits and not to save lives," going on to claim, "That same healthcare system is bankrolling my opponent, alongside a bunch of other special interests."

But progressives in the state unearthed a trove of anti-LGBTQ posts from the past, including criticisms of then-President Barack Obama from 2013, attacks on openly gay NFL draft pick Michael Sam in 2014, and the dismissal of the movement for LGBTQ equality.

Florida Politics.com reports that Chester declared himself being less supportive of Obama in 2013 because "this country has faaaaaar more important things to worry about than people 'coming out of the closet'."

Chester's 2014 attack on Sam focused on the NFL draft pick being an openly gay man in a locker room full of professional male athletes. "Bottom line what in the hell do you expect to receive for announcing that you're a man who likes men," Chester posted, going on to slam Pride events and the rainbow flag as "all this bull."

Rep. Lawson called Chester's posts "homophobic and bigoted," and went on to say:

"His hateful rhetoric has no place here — not just in Florida's Fifth District, but across our nation. This is about fundamental decency. LGBTQ Americans face discrimination in employment, housing and other areas of life daily. They need representation by a candidate who will fight to bring our nation closer to equality for all, not one who is detrimental to the progress we have made."

The Palm Beach Post reports that Chester issued apologies for the old posts, saying they had been ""ignorant, insensitive, disrespectful and hurtful."

Added Chester:

"Since that time, I have become more knowledgeable about the issues you face. I am fully committed to an inclusive platform that promotes gender equality and strengthens human rights."

But the progressives who brought the old posts to light — the same group who had earlier endorsed Chester — say they are being punished by the local chapter of the Democratic Party.

Reports the Palm Beach Post:

Chelsea Rimert, Jack Mills, Nicole Ordonez, Sierra Bush Rester and Bobby Johnson, said they are no longer allowed to speak at Leon Democratic Executive Committee meetings and have been removed from the group's Facebook discussion group of local politics.

John Hedrick, chair of the local party, said that those individuals had not been expelled because of their having brought attention to the old posts and said that the local Democratic party supports LGBTQ equality.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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